A good friend recently asked me how I (mostly) got over overwhelm.

Ha. Okay. Mostly.

One of the biggest influences in my learning to let go of overwhelm was another coach – Marla Skibbens.  During a sales class call, as we checked in, she let me check in with some word or phrase that was a synonym for overwhelm.  Then, in the lovingly direct way that she has, she said “I’m gonna jump in here and point out that you’ve checked in with some form of overwhelm for the past three sessions.  This is how your Soul Suckers hold you back and stop you from having the success that you want.”

It was like a splash of love and cold water in the face at the same time.

As we embark on a new season (and a new school year for the moms and teachers among us) it seems like a fabulous time to share 5 ways to say goodbye to overwhelm and hello to fulfillment.

Prepare yourself … each of these is likely to feel like a splash of coldwaterlove 😉

1) Splash Loving Cold Water on your Own Face
Just like Marla did for me, give yourself a reality check. Entertain the possibility that it’s your Soul Suckers that are seeing the world through the overwhelm lenses. Maybe, just maybe, they know that you’re about to burst into a new level of success – which terrifies them. They’re afraid they can’t handle it, while the true you IS handling it.

2) Let Go of “Conventional Wisdom”
There is an insidious societal belief that says “we can only succeed if we work ourselves to death”.   Bull$h!t. That’s a belief – one perspective among many – not gospel. Have you seen Richard Branson lately? He’s one of the most successful people on the planet and he is not working himself to death – he’s having a blast!

3) Take the Reins Away From the Martyrs and the Victims
Our inner martyrs tell us “Everyone needs me. People would be lost without me. It’s up to me to keep everything together, no matter what price I have to pay.” On the other hand, our inner victims might say, “That’s just the way it is. The little guy never wins. Life is filled with unhappiness and suffering.” More bull$h!t. Take the reins away from them and hand them over to your inner Leader.

4) Step Away From the Computer!
Seriously, when you feel overwhelmed, walk away. STOP whatever it is you’re doing, move somewhere else and do something else. Get some fresh air. Do a different task on your to do list. Go to a yoga class. Dance around the room or have a laughing/crying pity party on your living room floor.  It doesn’t matter what new thing you do – it can be as short as a 5-minute walk down to do the recycling or to check the mail.
(I do this regularly – especially the laughing crying pity party. I swear. And whenever I return to what had me feeling so overwhelmed I couldn’t handle it, it’s less daunting.  Sometimes I’m even in a downright creative flow when I get back to work.)

5) Embrace the Power of “No”
You made your bed, and now you’re lying in it. You have the power to choose where you devote your time, energy and resources.   If the choices you’ve made aren’t working for you, make new ones. Life is too short to let our Soul Suckers choose for us. … Say “No” to the things that drag you down and “Yes” to the things that feel fantastic (especially if they help you create the impact you want to create in the world).

If you could’ve seen me 10 or 15 years ago, you’d be shocked.  I was a total martyr.  I’d get obsessed with every little thing.  If I couldn’t figure something out … anything – Learning my lines.  Fixing a printer.  I’d just KEEP ON IT (and it wouldn’t work).

The strategies above have helped/are helping to shift things. And they work even during what people could argue is REAL overwhelm (though there may actually be no such thing).  My aunt, half-sister and I had 11 days to sort through everything in my mother’s house and deal with everything after she passed away suddenly. Even then, I practiced everything listed above. (I even “kidnapped” my sister and aunt to see a movie with me in the middle of the day.)

Everything got handled with quite a bit of ease, laughter, love and connection. There can be a kind of “No Bull$h!t” clarity after a death. Life is precious and short so there is no time to waste.

What will you say no to this week, in order to say yes to what matters most?